To explain who I am today and the lessons I have learned wouldn’t make sense unless I explained my past. I hit the lowest part in my life while I was a young adult and the events I was facing could have ruined me if I let them. Thankfully, a person came into my life at the time I needed most. If anyone was to look at a picture of my family, they would think we had the perfect life. However, the camera told lies that we were all good at hiding. I was blessed to have such an amazing mother. My father, on the other hand, was an abusive alcoholic who caused my life to be a living nightmare.
My mom has been a flight ttendant since I was little; she was usually gone every other week. I was the youngest out of three and my brother and sister were out of the house by the time I reached my senior year. So, that usually left just my dad and I. I was only seventeen when I found out my parents were getting a divorce. Honestly, I was quite shocked it took so long for my mother to finally leave my father. However, I knew her reason’s for waiting till I reached eighteen. I shared the wall the separated mine and my parent’s room and I could hear them fight nonstop.
It wasn’t hard to put the pieces together that my mom had enough of my father’s buse. My mom and I were driving to Meijer when I finally worked up the courage to ask her if she was leaving my father. It seemed like the longest pause l’ve ever experienced as she turned into the parking lot and turned to me and asked why I wanted to know. I explained that I wasn’t deaf and I could hear them through the walls and this was the information I had gathered. My mom just looked at me and replied, “Yes”. My mom informed my dad that I figured out about the divorce. I was left with this secret I couldn’t tell anyone about; not even my siblings.
The fighting got worse and my fathers drinking ncreased. I ended up giving my room to my mother and I would sleep on the couch; on watch ready to interfere if my father tried to do something dangerous. When my mother left for work I would go house to house, sleeping on my friend’s couches or spare beds. Some nights I wasn’t able to go anywhere or I was too embarrassed to stay with friends as much as I did. I would just drive every back road in my town until the early morning when I knew my father would be passed out on the couch. My father made it known he didn’t want me and that I was a mistake.
I grew up being blamed for every fight y parents got into and was constantly told if my mom ever left it was my fault. I never disclosed anything to my mom until one night things got terrifying. I had gotten permission from my mom that I could have some friends over for a bon fire while she was gone. I could have asked my dad, but anytime I ever told him anything he was usually drunk and never remembered. My drunken father wasn’t too happy that I had friends over and called me into the house. I told him I would send them home and leave, but this didn’t make him happy either. He was having one of his moments that I always tried to avoid.
He then ornered, tormented, and belittled me to a point I feared for my life. This wasn’t the first time this had happened; it would be the same thing with a different situation. While my personal life was crumbling I still had to somehow continue with school. I was still digging myself out of an academic hole I dug for myself my freshman year. I had gotten involved with an older boy; the captain of the hockey team. This turned out to be a toxic relationship as well and my grades were ruined as a result. I never thought about going to college because I figured my life would end up like the rest of my family.
My father’s side of the family never led their own lives. They were all handed jobs at Ford because my grandfather was the retired Vice President. It was a curse I knew I was doomed for. I was picking classes for my senior year with a good friend of mine. She and I were trying to get the same schedule as each other. She told me that we should take Military History together and I proceeded to laugh at her and tell her that she was crazy. I didn’t have a problem with the class; I was terrified of the teacher. I would purposely walk as far away from Mr. Miloser and would stare down at my eet when I walked down the hallway.
Mr. Miloser would stand outside of his classroom with a hockey stick. I never knew why; I thought it was to beat kids if they ever decided to get into a fight in school. After my friend kept begging me, I finally agreed to take Military History with her. After the first day I wasn’t as terrified as I thought I would be. Don’t get me wrong, Mr. Miloser was pretty scary, but as long as you were respectful he was respectful. As time went on I ended up thoroughly enjoying this class. Mr. Miloser would have recruiters and veterans come into the class and speak to us bout their experience’s.
The military was something I thought about, but didn’t think I could do. I doubted myself because when I had told my father I was thinking about joining the Air Force it ended up with me crying in my Pop-Pop’s arms. I was pretty good at fooling people into believing that my personal life was under control. However, there were very few people who could look at me and notice there was something more going on behind my fake smile. Mr. Miloser was one of them. I could tell by the way he looked at me every time I talked to him about my life outside of school. He knew something was rong and over time I would let him know things were tough at home.
I never told him the extent of how bad things were. Mr. Miloser wasn’t your ordinary teacher. He was the type of teacher that would continuously push his students to their fullest potential; he genuinely wanted the best for his students. His class motivated me to not only succeed, but also look at the life I was living and realize that I could actually make a difference. I decided I would talk to the Navy recruiter; already knowing I would join. I needed to change my life and cut off ties with the relationships that were dragging me down. After I went through the process at MEPS and signed my paperwork I knew exactly who I was going to tell.
That next Monday, before class, I gave Mr. Miloser a Navy themed folder and asked him to open it. He opened it, smiling the entire time as if he knew what he was going to look at. After looking at my paperwork he looked at me with a big smile and told me how proud he was of me. As time passed my departure date had finally arrived. I was ready to leave my old life behind and make a different life for myself. I remember sitting on a cold hard floor for hours in O’Hara Airport while continuously being screamed to keep my ead down and keep my mouth shut. Individually, each recruit was criticized and embarrassed.
The RDC’s goal was to break everyone down and they were succeeding. I would tune out the screams and peek up to see the smiling faces of families reuniting for Thanksgiving. My heart shattered knowing this would be the first year I would miss the holidays. After the busses arrived to Great Lakes I was quickly rushed off, given clothes, and demanded to strip off my civilian clothes and change into my new attire. Again, I was instructed to sit on a cold hard floor for a few more hours. I hadn’t slept since the night before I left for Great Lakes and I felt like I was going to pass out.
After I finally got registered, my division and I met our new RDC’s. I was immediately screamed at and told to go find a rack and drop off my belongings. My division and I quickly got into line to eat breakfast to start a new sleepless day. I received my food and sat down at my table just to look down and let it sink in; I had blueberry pancakes sitting on my plate. My mother had made blueberry pancakes my last morning at home. I sat at the table crying, watching my tears land on my food. I refused o eat these pancakes because my mom didn’t make them.
This moment I realized I wasn’t going to have my mother around like I was used to and it crushed me. After everything she and I battled together and the kind of relationship we have; not having my mother to talk to every night was unsettling for me. All I could think to myself was, “What did I do to myself? ” I felt like quitting and going back home to my mom and friends. I was only eighteen and I felt like I gave away my youth. I kept filling my head with negative thoughts as to why I should quit, but then memories of my father filled my head.
I quickly remembered why I was in the moment I was in. Things eventually got better while I continued boot camp. I let go of the responsibility that I had to protect my mom because how was I supposed to protect her while I couldn’t protect myself? My brother had moved back into the house after I left and it made me feel better knowing she was in good hands. I made it my mission to go above and beyond in boot camp trying to prove the voices in my head wrong. I ended up being one of the very few who was promoted out of boot camp.
I look back at my life and I can honestly say that taking Mr. Miloser’s Military History class changed my life. It was full filling to have a teacher that motivated me enough and showed his appreciation for my, as well as my fellow classmates, achievements. I had a fear of disappointing him because I knew he believed in me. I wouldn’t be where I am today; that’s for sure. I now know that despite the events that occur in my life, I can make a change. I know what kind of life I want my son to have and I will never let him know what it’s like to feel like I did growing up. I changed my life for me and I continue to improve because of my son.